[I’m posting this 11 days after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda, locally) to remind us of the beautiful things in the world and that all hope is not lost.]
One really compelling reason why we decided to go to Leyte along with many of my batchmates from college was the chance to do a dry-run on our dream nomadic lifestyle. It also sounded fun to expose our then six-month-old daughter to travelling at such an early age. (Yes, even if she can’t remember going there at all.)
Our next destination is a really beautiful island – make that islet – whose beauty and simplicity is almost unparalleled. Seriously, the pictures were already beautiful when I Googled it but even more so when I got the chance to see it in person.
Kalanggaman Island was the place to be. Haha. But, let me warn you ahead, that the island offered no freshwater or electricity resources. Sure, some lamps (and by some I mean you could count it with your hands alone) were lit up the place by night but only to a certain point. Their lamps were solar-powered and thus could not emit as much light as the electric ones.
Since we were also celebrating our friend’s birthday there, we had all the provisions that we needed. Of course, the baby’s needs had been taken care of first, right before we packed the bags. All supplies were doubled – except for her food which we decided not to bring since there was no refrigerator to place it in.
Another friend who had been there before warned us of the “bumpy” ride we were about to get into on the boat ride from Palompon to Kalanggaman Island. There were no signs of those “bumps” whatsoever.
The little miss was the first to set foot on the island (actually, her dad) and, things have to be put in order with swimming at the top of the list. It was quite hot from all the travel but the dip was sweet and short since it was already late in the afternoon and the breeze on the island had gotten a little bit colder.
Of course, siestas had to be enjoyed while the sun was yet to set.
And apparently, a few others enjoyed a few snapshots here and there. (And by few, I mean a little more than a handful of pictures, in every angle, for a particular backdrop.)
Before the sun made its way past the horizon, we had a group shot by the sandbar.
Nighttime in the island was a little too dark than expected. There was no electricity at all and some points had lamps but only those powered by solar cells charged during the day. It seemed overcast as well and the air was humid. I had gotten scared about getting soaked in the rain since we only had tents and mats and there was a six-month-old baby with us.
Thankfully, there were a few rooms at the other end of the island from where we were camping and my friend was able to reserve two. There was still no electricity and therefore no electric fans but there was a mattress. The daughter seemed uncomfortable at the campsite and was sweating profusely from inside the tent. There was no choice but to give in to the city comforts that the baby cannot seem to be without. So much for backpacking.
The winds blew and blew throughout the night until the humid air was gone and all that’s left was really cold air that we had to close the windows of the room. Sea breeze can be really strong and really cold. (Plus, we do not want a gassy baby when we go back to Cebu.)
I actually thought it would be impossible to sleep peacefully that night. The baby sought for mattress and cool air. Eventually, she cave in to sleeping and although she was fussy during the first few hours, when the cold breeze came, she became much calmer.
We woke up and headed back to the campsite before the break of dawn. It was still a little dark and it was fun to look at our friends lying in all places: the sand, their tents, the benches and beach “beds” (whatever you call them). They were all under thick jackets. Too bad I wasn’t able to get a picture of them.
Later, we enjoyed the place and chatted. The others had gone swimming as well. When the baby had her morning nap, we enjoyed a game of cards, a few shots of booze (did we?) and a few rounds of wacky games.
And then the food came. Apparently, the roasted chicken and grilled pork we had the night before was not yet the celebration “proper”.
We waited a little after lunch for our boat to arrive to bring us back to Palompon. The trip back was pretty “bumpy” but the little miss slept through the whole ordeal. The partner and I had taken a few shots of booze I guess because I remember feeling slightly seasick and I had sat uncomfortably wondering if I would be throwing up anytime.
The trip back was quite uneventful. We showered with freshwater as there were none back in the island and changed to our clean clothes. We had rented a van and asked to drop by another friend’s house in Ormoc before getting to the pier. There we had dinner of roast pig yet again (always present in celebrations).
Finally, we went to the pier and boarded the fastcraft back to Cebu. The little miss had gotten fussy yet again but only because she was sleepy. A few minutes of singing and shushing and rocking sent her to sleep. She woke up when we arrived in Cebu, as soon as her grandmother carried her. The whole trip was not very comfortable for me though and left me with an aching back.
Looking back, the trip had been really enjoyable that it’s pretty hard to imagine what it might have looked like right now what with the Super Typhoon and the storm surge greatly affecting these areas. Still, all hope is not lost.
If you would like to donate to the victims, you may get information here.
Credits to my friends Chessa and Juliene for the great pics in this post.